Footprints Waiting to rebuild.

WITH beaming faces, men and women are busy in the wheat fields. The environment is quite serene, the calm shattered only by the noise of the wheat-threshing machine in the nagri of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, off the Indus Highway.

Male farm labourers separate chaff from grain while their female counterparts carry wheat stacks for threshing. Wheat crop was cultivated on residual moisture - the outcome of gushing flood and Manchhar Lake's waters.

Floodwaters had inundated large swathes of land in almost all 10 union councils of Sehwan taluka last September.

Since most farmers were short of time after belated receding of water around November, they didn't prepare the land appropriately and capitalised on the available moisture.

'There is little grain in the crop', says Shabbiran Khoso, holding wheat stems in her hand. She notes that the crop's average productivity is seemingly lower, but can't explain why.

A kilometre's drive away, young Rehana Khoso says she can speak Urdu as I try and interact with her mother-in-law, the elderly Allah Bachaee Khoso, in Sindhi 'The temperature is rising. It is unbearable to stay in the tent without a fan,' Rehana complains. Nadir, her husband, had gone to harvest wheat as a labourer elsewhere to make some money to feed his family.

'While we used to cram into one tent in winter, things are entirely different in summer and it is just suffocating inside if you don't have electricity,' Allah Bachae says, alluding to her predicament after the floods.

Rehana's ordeal, like tens of thousands of others, began last September when Manchhar's banks were breached for relief cuts. At the time, she ended up in a relief camp near Laal Bagh after floodwater inundated her village.

'We had to sell goats for cheaper rates to feed our children. Financial miseries took a heavy toll on us. Household items left in the house were stolen and my house collapsed,' she recalls, the smile disappearing from her face.

She is staying in the tent her family brought from the relief camp. Bricks, debris and such tents dot her village, Sahita Sainch in union council Jaffarabad, Sehwan. Floodwater receded from the village but Rehana's life is yet to return to normal. A makeshift toilet structure built of pieces of wood and covered with worn-out cloth make for a disturbing site as men and women lack access to basic sanitation facilities.

'Due to stagnant water remaining for a long time, other houses have weak foundations...

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